- Last week on Smackdown Live... A.J. Styles vs. James Ellsworth did not take place as advertised... Dolph Ziggler defeated Dean Ambrose, Luke Harper, and The Miz in a Four-Corner Elimination Match to become the #1 Contender to A.J. Styles... Alexa Bliss walked out on a match with Becky Lynch after refusing a match with enhancement girl Deonna Purrazzo... Zack Ryder survived a Tag Team Battle Royal to earn a Championship Match against The Wyatt Family... Apollo Crews hung out with Gabriel Iglesias and annoyed The Miz... Natalya continues to insist she didn't attack Nikki Bella, and ended up losing a match to Carmella due to a miscommunication... and that's it, I guess. They taped Tribute to the Troops the same night, so they stretched things out a bit.
- Smackdown Episode #904 is LIVE from the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, MI, with Mauro Ranallo, John "Bradshaw" Layfield, and David Otunga calling the action, and Tom Phillips sitting at ringside to keep the gun to Mauro's head and make sure he follows Vince's instructions. Advertised for tonight... not much. I guess they are promoting Styles vs. Ellsworth, but they backed out on it two weeks in a row already.
- Post-match, Styles decides to add injury to defeat, tossing Ellsworth to the floor and slamming him into the announcer's table. He peaks under the ring, finding nothing, and chooses to slingshot Ellsworth underneath the ring, catching his non-chin under the support structure. Styles leaves, but quickly returns and throws Ellsworth into the security wall with a snap suplex. He gloats about his accomplishment while Ellsworth is carted off. "He can go back to the Island of Misfit Toys where he belongs." Dolph Ziggler interrupts, and reminds Styles that he has a Championship opportunity next week. Styles reminds him the best thing he's at is losing. Baron Corbin interrupts for whatever reason (remember that epic feud between Corbin and Ziggler that lasted 3-4 months immediately following WrestleMania?). Corbin complains about Ziggler always getting the title shots, and a quick End of Days follows.
- Daniel Bryan is with Dolph Ziggler backstage. Ziggler wants a match with Corbin tonight, but Bryan stipulates that if Ziggler loses, then Baron Corbin gets the Championship Match next week on the Very Special Edition of Smackdown Live.
- Renee Young tries to interview the Miz about his victory, but instead he turns it around and asks her about her obsession with Dean Ambrose. After all, she's the one sleeping with him. SAVAGE! Young responds with a slap across the face and storms off, refusing to continue with the interview. Damn, who would've thought at the start of 2016, that THE MIZ might be the MVP of 2016?
- Zack Ryder suffered a knee injury last week, and will be out of action for an indeterminate amount of time, so the Hype Bros unfortunately lose their opportunity to challenge for the Tag Team Titles. At Smackdown Live: Wild Card Finals, it'll be a Four Corners Match with American Alpha, Slater and Rhyno, and the Usos challenging two members of The Wyatt Family. Seriously, what have the Usos done to earn this opportunity?
- John Cena returns to Smackdown Live... NEXT WEEK.
- Natalya comes out to further her little storyline with Nikki Bella and Carmella. She just wants to talk. Maybe Nikki is done being a snob and actually responded to her phone calls and text messages. Carmella quickly interrupts their non-conversation and continue to play them against each other. Natalya keeps denying everything until finally breaking and telling Carmella she's a snitch because she told her these things in private. The line that pushed her over the line? That Nikki and Brie couldn't make it on their own and wouldn't be anything without WWE. Natalya gives chase to Carmella, then decides to go full blown heel, whining about how she's Natalya Neidhart, and she's from wrestling royalty, and Nikki is nothing... and a B-word that rhymes with "witch." Then they make it into a Total Divas angle about John Cena not wanting to marry her. Hey, keep the Total Divas shit off my show, Smackdown Live doesn't need that trash.
- Daniel Bryan meets with Alexa Bliss, who's still pretending to be injured. The trainers say otherwise. She'll have to compete tonight, or else she can forfeit the Women's Championship. Next week on the Wild Card Finals (what an odd name for a special episode), she defends against the former Champion, Becky Lynch.
- The Miz shows up, with Dean Ambrose still recovering from the post-match antics of the Wyatt Family, and lays him out with the Skull Crushing Finale. Well, that's definitely a heel move and a good way to get retribution for Renee's slap earlier in the night. Go Miz!
- Ryan Phillippe, star of Shooter, is walking around looking for Randy Orton. He comes across Mojo Rawley, but is quickly interrupted by Curt Hawkins. They exchange words and a match is set. Mojo accuses Hawkins of being unlucky with the ladies, too.
- Dasha Fuentes attempts to interview James Ellsworth, who is covered in bandages and wrapped in ice. He doesn't respond with more than painful grunts. Carmella shows up to tell Dasha off and show sympathy for Ellsworth. Oh God, that one is going to blow up in his face sooner than later.
We return from commercial, with Ziggler fighting out of a chin-lock. Corbin charges into the corner and meets the post. Ziggler with a sloppy Famouser for a near fall. Corbin goes for a Powerbomb, but Ziggler counters with a roll up for two. Corbin with an STO for two. Corbin yells at Styles to pay attention and comes off the ropes with a right. Ziggler catches him with a roll up for two. Corbin is up first and lays him out with a clothesline for a near fall. Ziggler hits a neck breaker across the middle rope, followed by the Zig-Zag for two. They exchange blows in the corner, with Corbin getting the better of it and connects with Deep Six for another near fall. They take it to the floor, with Corbin throwing Ziggler into the barricade. Yay, the crowd is chanting "ten" for every count from the referee. Corbin tosses Ziggler into Styles because he's a jerk. They keep fighting, and the bell rings at 12:06 (shown). It's a Double Count-Out. Styles whacks both with chairs and celebrates, so here's Daniel Bryan to make next week's title match a Triple Threat. **1/2 Decent "Main Event" formula match, but you're never getting much more from Corbin.
Final Thoughts: Hit-and-miss show this week, but that's more than we've traditionally seen from shows that come this time of year. They did a fine job promoting next week's special episode of Smackdown Live, with three Championship matches, as well as the return of John Cena. With a bit of effort, they could do some good to push guys like Apollo Crews, Luke Harper, and Baron Corbin, but to do that, you have to give them wins over credible opponents and not burry them (cough: Crews: cough) on the warm-up matches for weeks at a time.